If you want to consistently catch a lot of carp during any fishing session then the trick is to get them feeding first. Once shoals of carp are feeding confidently in your swim, catching them will be very easy because they’ll be competing for the available food source. Also, when a carp’s greed element kicks in, it’ll lower its instinctive guard and you’ll catch that fish with ease, even if the fishing rigs used are less disguised or have poor hooking potential. The combination of these two elements will produce amazing carp catches that’ll surprise anyone around your local lake!
One of the best ways to start carp feeding is to teach them that the bait you’re using is safe and doesn’t pose a threat. Carp are greedy creatures and will eat almost any type of food they find. One reason why they won’t always eat a certain bait is if they’re unsure of its safety.
Once you’ve located the carp in your lake, a good tip is to "trickle feed" your chosen bait into the swim a little at a time. Watch for those flat spots and small bubbles below the area that give away signs of feeding fish. Continue to feed them without any rigs or line in the area at all. You must re-frame from casting a rig onto your baited area until the fish are feeding well. If you must get a rig or two out there, then cast it far away from the area you’re targeting, or try fishing the margin where the main line will be nowhere near your free bait.
When the carp are feeding confidently, do not cast a rig right in the middle of them, instead, drop a light lead set up out at a shorter distance to where you’ve been baiting. This way you are letting the carp find your hookbait without the problem of spooking them away from the area altogether. It will be tempting to cast right in the thick of it but you must take your time, the rewards usually come later and with a little patience.
Catching many carp in one single session can become a hard task as it’s not always easy to get a large number of fish feeding within a few hours. You really need large shoals to feed roughly around the same time because this is what causes the competitive feeding situation where the carp lower their guards considerably. To almost guarantee catching numerous carp in one session, it may be best to pre-bait the swim a few days before fishing in order to give the carp more time to associate your bait as safe.
One effective baiting method to use is to make sure your free bait is different to the norm in some way, and to present it on the lake bed in a different way to how other anglers are baiting up. For example, many anglers fish using PVA bags, however, they usually place a rig inside the PVA bag. Carp will get used to seeing these “dangerous” clusters of bait and eventually they’ll lose there effectiveness. What you want to do is to teach the carp that your clusters of bait are safe, in other words, let them have lots of bags for free without any rig inside. This can be done by placing out numerous PVA bagged balls without any rig at all. You can whack out ten or twenty at a time, then leave them for several hours. You want the fish to feed on them confidently so there’s no suspicion when you decide to place out a rigged PVA bag. In fact, I think this tactic will probably work best after a pre-baiting session, trying to teach carp something too quickly can be difficult. Doing it over the course of a few weeks, and placing free PVA bag clusters every few days for a couple of weeks will help develop a strong association as a safe food source for the carp in the lake. This gives the carp time to associate the cluster of pellets or whatever bait you use, as safe.
This fishing technique can also be done with various forms of other bait or boilies. I have often thought of trying to pre-bait a swim with boilies strung together with PVA string, so they lie on the bottom linked together or in lines, similar to how we buy sausages from the butcher. The carp will get used to seeing boilies linked together, and because of how close the boilies are attached the water doesn’t get to the PVA string so they remain in links on the lake bed. The carp will then have to work hard to detach each boilie. This means they will learn to work hard to release the food and as a result, they become pre-occupied with detaching a boilie, thus, when you fish for carp using a “rigged” link of boilies their guard is lower than normal and the fish are easier to catch.
These are just a few ideas on how you can teach the carp in your favourite lake to feed on your boilies. You can use your own ideas and create a baiting strategy that’ll get you catching large numbers of carp in one single fishing session.